U.S. cross-country skier Sophie Caldwell made it to the finals before finishing sixth. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

American Sophie Caldwell fell during the women’s sprint cross-country final when her ski tangled with Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen’s pole and finished last in the field of six.

Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway won the gold, to no one’s surprise. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway and Vesna Fabjan of Slovenia were second in a photo finish, but Oestberg won the silver by .02 of a second.

After the tangle, Jacobsen skied with a broken pole and managed to finish fourth. Jacobsen’s brother died on the eve of the Games and the Norwegians had competed in black arm bands in memory of him until the International Olympic Committee told them to stop.

The fall by Caldwell, who trains with Jacobsen, put her out of medal contention. She finished more than 12 seconds behind Falla. Still, her finish was the best by an American in cross-country skiing at these Olympics.

Caldwell and Oestberg wound up in a photo finish in their heat of the semifinals, but Oestberg’s time was .01 of a second faster. Caldwell was the only American to advance to the semifinals or the finals.

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Keys to the skis

The sprint is a shorter race but still a long day for competitors, except those knocked out early on. In addition to fighting some treacherous snow conditions, the women competed in qualifications, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, with small breaks in between rounds.

Caldwell’s teammate Jessica Diggins was 12th. Kikkan Randall, who missed the semifinals by five-hundredths of a second, was 18th and Ida Sargent 19th.

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